NIKE FOUNDER PHIL KNIGHT TELLS “CBS SUNDAY MORNING” HE INTENDS TO GIVE MOST OF HIS FORTUNE AWAY
Nike founder Phil Knight has amassed a fortune estimated to be $25 billion and he intends to give most of it away, he tells Lee Cowan in a wide-ranging interview for CBS SUNDAY MORNING , to be broadcast Sunday, April 24 (9:00 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network.
“By the time, you know, the lives of my children and their kids run out, I will have given most of it to charity,” Knight tells Cowan.
With his wife Penny, Knight has already donated more than $1 billion to various causes. He’s given more than $500 million to Stanford University, where he first drew up the idea for Nike. Knight has also given generously to the University of Oregon, where the law school is named after his father and a new basketball arena is named for his son Matthew, who died in a diving accident.
“I can get pretty emotional about this place, too,” Knight tells Cowan, while visiting the University of Oregon, where he was a mid-distance runner. “After all, I was born here.”
Knight talks with Cowan about the source of his inspiration for the running shoes that would lead to Nike; about his relationship with Bill Bowerman, the legendary track coach who became a mentor and business partner; the development of famed Nike swoosh logo, and his relationship with Michael Jordan- all of which he details at greater length in his new book, “Shoe Dog,” from Scribner, a division of CBS’s Simon and Schuster.
Knight addresses some of the controversies in Nike’s history, such as the company’s use of cheap, overseas labor, which proved disastrous from a public relations standpoint. At the time, human rights groups called for boycotts. Knight now admits he may have been a little defensive in his response.
“I was, yeah,” Knight tells Cowan. “I never thought we had bad factories, in fact, it was just the opposite, good factories. We tried to find the best factories you could work with and good shoes come out of good factories. The fact that they could be better is what we should have concentrated on and what we ultimately did concentrate on.”
Knight also discusses Nike’s use of sometimes controversial athletes, whose off-court antics threatened to overshadow their athletic lives, Knight says: “We like a little wackiness. We just don’t want too much.”
CBS SUNDAY MORNING is broadcast Sundays (9:00-10:30 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Rand Morrison is the executive producer.
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Richard Huff 212-975-3328 HuffR@cbsnews.com